Some may wonder how a 221-page hardback book could possibly do justice to the magic and drama of a 250 year-old sport so steeped in intrigue, legend and tradition.
Anne Holland, in ‘Celebration of 250 Years of Steeplechasing’, succeeds magnificently.
In an accurate and entertaining account, she thematically outlines the great moments of steeplechasing’s history and reveals the secrets of some of its most prominent personalities.
From the sport’s humble birth in 1752 when, for a cask of wine, Edmond Blake raced Cornelius O’Callaghan across five miles of rough Co Cork country to the distant steeple of St Marys Church, thus giving the race its name, to the first running of the Grand National in 1939, and the mud-bath that was this year’s Grand National, Anne Holland captures the triumphs, disappointments and the fairy-tale stories that are so embedded in steeplechasing’s rich history.
The courage and camaraderie of characters, both horse and human, are a strong theme of the book. The poignant and triumphant stories of horses that have become legend include Red Rum, Desert Orchid, Aldaniti and perhaps the most famous mare in the sport’s history, Dawn Run.
Then there are the jockeys and trainers – Fred Winter, Josh Gifford, John Francome and Tony McCoy: the author looks at their most evocative moments, whether successes or heart-wrenching disasters.
In the foreword, Josh Gifford summarises the power of steeplechasing: ‘There is no hidden mystery to the sport, just a magic which is like a never-ending magnet’. The book is about dedication, passion and courage – it will leave you in awe of the heroes and heroines that have contributed to the sport’s unforgettable history.
Anne Holland has had two ambitions since the age of four – to write and to point-to-point.Celebration of 250 Years of Steeplechasingis testament to her success in both fields.
Beautifully illustrated with over 200 black and white and colour images, this is a brilliant present for any racing enthusiast.
Order Celebration of 250 Years of Steeplechasing today